The number of people who are 80-years-old and older is on the rise, and will account for nearly 10 percent of the whole U.S. population by 2050. Since the lifetime chance for developing high blood pressure is at least 70 percent by age 80, more and more people will be at risk for the health problems that high blood pressure can cause.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is sometimes called the "silent killer" because it produces few, if any, symptoms. In fact, you might not even realize you have high blood pressure. But if it's not treated, this condition can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and other serious problems, including a risk for dementia.
The 2017 American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association blood pressure guidelines recommend that most people aged 65 or older maintain their systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) at less than 130 mmHg. But, people 80 years or older often also have multiple chronic health conditions, can be frail, take several medicines, and could have cognitive problems. Because of this, it's still unclear whether the risks and benefits of lowering systolic blood pressure to less than 130 mm Hg are the same for people aged 80 years and older as they are for people aged 65 to 80.
Given this knowledge gap, a team of researchers focused on this group of older adults within a large randomized trial called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT). They published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society . In their analysis of SPRINT data, the researchers focused on people aged 80 and older, who had reported heart disease events (such as heart attacks or strokes), changes in kidney function, cognitive impairment, quality of life, or death. The researchers also explored whether impairments in cognitive or physical function had any effect on intensive blood pressure control.
The analysis included 1,167 participants. Most were around 84 years old, and about 3 percent were 90 or older. Their baseline systolic blood pressure was around 142 mmHg. Most of the participants had at least three chronic health conditions. More than half were taking at least five medications and about 27 percent had a history of heart disease. Related Stories
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